As far back as ancient times, people have loved to tell and to listen to stories. One tale of interest has been the creation story. Two different versions of this story emerged very early on. One was in Theogony by Hesiod and one was in the Hebrew’s Genesis. The stories share some points, but differ on how and why things happened. They both tell how the world began, what was the gods or God’s relationship with man, what the purpose of women was, and how a battle took place in the Heavens.
Hesiod’s Theogony and the book of Genesis give two very different interpretations on how the world was created and what gifts were given to man. First, how many gods were involved in the process is one major difference. In Theogony, Hesiod talks about Chaos, an empty yawning; Earth, a sure foundation; Tartara, a dark place below the earth; and Eros, love; as being the first four major gods. Each part of nature was a god itself that then went on to create other gods. For example, Earth created Sea, Heavens, and Mountains. In Genesis, chapter 1, God talks of creating the different parts of nature. The chapter ends with, “God looked at everything He had made, and he found it very good.” The statement refers to only one God and what He made were parts of nature not gods. The two stories also conflict on what they provided for man. In Theogony, Zeus is angered by Prometheus gift of fire to man especially after he refused the request.. He states that, “He would never give that kind of power to mortal man. (line 563). The God in Genesis tells Adam that he has given him every seed bearing plant and control over all the animals. The stories tell of creation and of the gifts given to man but with different outcomes.
Another part in which the two stories differ is their relationship towards man. In Genesis, God states that, “man was created in his image.” Man was to have control over all things. In Theogony, there is no mention at all of the creation of man or what he looked like. Man was unimportant to the gods. In Genesis, God was involved completely in every part of man’s life. He has no other distractions like wives, children, or battles with other gods. As compared to Theogony, where we see the gods are constantly distracted by their own personal matters and pleasures. However, the stories are similar when it comes to punishing man for on offense. Zeus punishes man for receiving the gift of fire and God punishes man for eating from the tree of knowledge. The Christian God has a very personal relationship with man while Zeus and the other Greek gods have little or no relationship.
Both Theogony and Genesis had a woman play a defining part in their stories, however, the purpose for their existence was different. In Genesis, God creates Eve to help man and to be his companion. He created Eve from man’s rib to become part of him. It is Eve who betrays God and eats from the Tree of Knowledge which brings about the fall from grace. However, it is the serpent not Eve who receives most of the blame. God also punishes man for listening to her. God does not blame Eve solely and does not see her as evil. In Theogony, Zeus upon seeing man using fire immediately made a suffering for man as a punishment. She was a beautiful woman that no man could resist, but would cause trouble for man. Zeus calls woman the most dreaded of evil. She was made to create hardships for man. She was “to be a great affliction to mortals. Women are portrayed in two opposite ways.. In one she is used for evil in the other she falls to evil.
Finally, both tell of battles that take place in the Heavens. Hesiod tells of battles that take place in order to banish the monsters to Tartarus. The monsters are born from the gods thus the evil comes directly from them. Genesis tells of a great battle that takes place in Heaven between the angels. The angels were given free will and some made a choice to be evil and were banished to Hell forever. In one story the evil comes from the gods where as in the other story the angels chose it. Hesiod’s gods can produce evil offspring. The Christian God only can produce good, but allows evil because of his gift of free will.
Hesiod’s Theogony and Hebrew’s Genesis come from cultures of different beliefs; however, they still shared some common themes. Both stories talk about the beginning, about man’s relationships with the gods and women, and about the battles among the gods in the Heavens. It is easy to see as people wrote down stories they had common themes, but they would add their own opinions according to their beliefs and cultures.